Roy Harper

The Unknown Soldier

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Released in 1980, The Unknown Soldier initiated an unsettling trend in Harper's career whereby over-production and unfocused songwriting became commonplace. Since that time, great Harper albums have been the exception rather than the rule, although every release does have at least a few good songs. The best song on this effort is "You," which benefits from the considerable talents of David Gilmour and Kate Bush. "Short and Sweet" is also good and was co-authored by David Gilmour, who released a similar take of the song on his solo debut, David Gilmour, in 1978. But not even the all-star cameos can completely save the day on this album, for most of the other cuts are mired in synth noodlings and inorganic sounds. The title track briefly reverts to Harper's simple yet strong acoustic approach, yet fails to completely convince due to the surrounding songs. Harper's output continued to be erratic for most of the '80s, with his Jugula album being the lone bright spot. There are many places to start investigating Harper's brilliant work, but The Unknown Soldier is not among them.

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